Well here we are, officially half way through the GG voyages, circumnavigating the UK. Not only has the STS Lord Nelson visited Scotland and the Western Isles but we have sailed over the top of the country pass the Orkneys and round to the east coast, visiting the Tyne and down to the Wash, and now we find ourselves having left London, off the Kentish coast heading further south. You can follow our progress on ‘ocean tracker’ on the JST website www.jst.org.uk
It really has been an eye opener joining the GGUK as I’d assumed that the guides left once they hit their 20’s and here we are meeting all generations of guiders. The permanent crew are becoming more adept at singing and consider ourselves honorary members too! Thank goodness Gudrun our Bosun’s Mate is back on board though to sort out the actions for us!
Incidentally on board so far we have acquired: a camp blanket, thanks to the guides in Cumbria – (psst Margaret, its nearly half full of badges and looking good);a blue ‘centenary’ duck who is being expertly hidden by each leg, liberated and then rehidden for the next voyage; a little ‘centenary’ GG boat which is having its photo taken in various ports; and now we have been joined by ‘Crystal the bear’ who joined in London c/o one of our visitors(Essex West Guides) this weekend from the Trefoil Guild – who incidentally came down on a narrow boat to visit the ship in Canary Wharf. Oh and we’ve also found ‘stowaway bear’ (Boston - London) who is being loved and reassured that he’ll be reunited with his ‘mum’ after leg 10 so long as we know to whom he belongs! He’s been named ‘marmalade bear’ as he was found snuggling up to a jar. Mind you there is always the option of holding him to ransom (sending a bit of fur or paw through the post maybe?) and helping the JST fundraise for our 800 Challenge. Oh well, perhaps not!
Anyhow, we invited our new watch leaders and the voyage doctor Jenny, to join the ship in London the evening before the voyage in order to give them a chance to settle in and then, we promptly put them all to work as we needed to deliver the ship to Chatham. So we cast off our mooring lines and came out of the cut towards the lock and out down the River Thames with our lovely pilot John Freestone. Leaving our berth we managed to leave something of an impression, which inspired a rendition of George Formby’s ‘I was leaning on a lamp post’! But I digress - that’s another story!
Just to make it even more interesting, whilst we motored down the Thames, Marco our chief engineer was racing to make the connection from the airport to the pilots berth in Gravesend by train (broke down) and taxi and just as we landed the pilot at Royal Terrace Pier, we were required to leave the berth. You couldn’t make it up, as Nellie turned her bow back out into the river, Marco arrived speechless at the pier – it was real comedy and was also quickly remedied by the pilot launch delivering him safely to us. The ship then went to an anchorage at Leigh whilst we waited for high water before coming alongside in Chatham. We consider this’ value for money’ as our poor new watchleaders (Dinah, Alison, Judith and Katie) then turned too with the permanent crew at midnight to bring the ship alongside in Chatham, where we finally made fast at 0330hrs. What a way to begin this adventure!
After a welcome late breakfast, we then got the finishing touches done and were ready to receive our new crew at 1300hrs. They duly came up the gangway where they met Chris the first mate, signed on and found their cabins, crewmates, foul weather gear and harnesses.
Once all the crew were on board Neil the Captain invited everyone to join him in the lower mess so that he could introduce the permanent crew before the training began. Namely, Chris the mate; Jon the 2nd mate; Marcin the bosun; Marco the Chief Engineer with Alec the 2nd engineer; Rachel the medical purser; Dave the cook (last seen dressed as a yellow duck complete with yellow ‘marigold’ feet singing ‘Wasn’t it bit of luck that I was born a baby duck’ – absolute quackers! Cookie is accompanied in the galley this week by his lovely assistant Joyce (the Voice) and completing the team is Bosun’s mate Gudrun.
We’ll keep you posted!
PS I’ve just reread the bit about hiding the blue duck and wish to assure any reader I don’t mean hiding the duck’s leg but each voyage leg!!